The U.N. Convention on Cluster Munitions ratified by thirty-eight nations went into effect August 1. The remaining nations in the total of 107 who have signed on are working towards ratification. The U.S., however, hasn't gotten that far -- the Obama administration is still thinking it over. Excerpts from Esther Banales, "Long-Awaited Cluster Bomb Ban Enters Into Force; US Straggles Behind," Inter Press Service, 31 July 2010, posted at truthout:
"This new instrument is a major advance for the global disarmament and humanitarian agendas, and will help us to counter the widespread insecurity and suffering caused by these terrible weapons, particularly among civilians and children," noted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Cluster munitions explode in mid-air to release dozens - sometimes hundreds - of smaller "bomblets" across large areas. Because the final location of these scattered smaller bombs is difficult to control, they can cause large numbers of civilian casualties.
Bomblets that fail to explode immediately may also lay dormant, potentially acting as landmines and killing or maiming civilians long after a conflict is ended. Children are known to be particularly at risk from dud cluster munitions since they are often attracted to the shiny objects and less aware of their dangers....
In the West, the United States has also been a focus of the [Cluster Munition Coalition's efforts. "At the moment the [Barack] Obama Administration is engaged in a very in-depth review of their landmine policy to see if they want to join the convention," [CMC co-chair Stephen] Goose explained. "The U.S. has already acknowledged that cluster munitions should be banned at some point in the future."...
Meanwhile, the Pentagon declared that the U.S. will restrain from using cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than one percent, which would include all but a small fraction, by the end of 2018.
"[The U.S.] should not wait another eight years to stop using cluster munitions; it should ban them now," Goose declared.